A movie experience is the sum of all production aspects, and all these must come together seamlessly in order to give the audience a total suspension of disbelief and allow them to immerse themselves in the movie. Firefly made all of that possible, tugging not only heartstrings but also pulling out all the wonders. The film is both simple and big. In effect, Firefly has become the new Filipino epic hero’s journey.

Firefly managed to combine the opposites: simplicity and grandness. It has a simple premise: a boy sets out to find the island of fireflies in his mother’s bedtime stories. He has always believed these stories to be true, and when he gets a chance, he escapes his poverty-stricken home in Manila to journey to Ticao, an island northeast of Masbate. What follows is a grand adventure embellished with majestic tours of Philippine landscapes, seascapes, and a generous helping of magic realism.

Firefly has become the new Filipino epic hero’s journey.


The key to fully enjoying a movie (and watching it in the cinema heightens this), is to allow yourself to not mind the hits and misses in the technical aspects. When a movie is smoothly edited, amply scored, beautifully colored, masterfully shot, and skillfully directed, then you’re no longer bothered by what can go wrong. Instead, you can focus on immersing yourself in the story. This is exactly what Firefly delivers. We cannot commend the creative and production team enough for taking time to hone the film. This is the result of a movie that took its time to make. And it shows. A perfect example is its special effects. Employing magic realism, Firefly’s special effects are seamlessly mixed within the real shots that it does not bother your viewing and it even enhances the scenes and their intentions.

Euwann Mikaell delivers through and through.

The quality of the movie is reminiscent of the heydays of GMA Films, where storytelling is key. The ‘tatak GMA films’ is apparent here. However, credit must not veer away from the film’s director, Zig Dulay. There is also a ‘tatak Zig Dulay,’ which is masterful and seamless storytelling. From his award-winning regional films, to his innovative TV projects, his ability to take the audience along for a ride — and not lose them along the way — is a gem so hard to come by. In Firefly, Zig is akin to a tour guide who does not only direct our attention to one side of the view, and then moves on to the next itinerary. The movie is clearly divided to chapters that have their own take-aways. And along the journey, he carries each of them, connects them with each other, stacks them up, until they explode to one great epiphany that bursts right in front of you that it overwhelms you with emotions. Catharsis at its best.

And if we can’t gush enough over the film’s technical and creative merits, there’s still its perfect casting. Miguel Tanfelix and Ysabel Ortega as Billy and Erika are a match made in loveteam heaven, yet the treatment of their characters isn’t too cheesy that they were able to act their parts with dimensionality and depth. Epy Quizon is Mang Louie no less. His earnest portrayal is part of the huge heart of the film. The rest of the supporting cast delivered their parts as well.

Zig Dulay’s ability to take the audience along for a ride — and not lose them along the way — is a gem so hard to come by.

Then there is the mother-son tandem of Alessandra De Rossi as Elay and Euwenn Mikaell as the lead character, Tonton. At this point, Alessandra no longer needs too much introduction. We already know her acting mettle, and she brings that effortless but effective portrayal in this film. Elay sets the spark in Tonton’s heart, and Alessandra played it with inspiring authenticity. She should also be up there receiving an acting award for this film, and surely, she will.

Screen Grab from Firefly Trailer

Euwann Mikaell delivers through and through. A child actor’s charm is sometimes enough to brighten the screen, but it can only go so far, especially if the child actor needs to carry a film from start to finish. But at a young age, Euwann’s performance carried through. He is an intelligent young actor, as evidenced by the presence of acting nuances when needed in the scenes. He does not only deliver lines he was made to memorize. He IS Tonton. And so all throughout the movie, we cannot help but root for him, cheer him on, weep, and triumph with him.

At the core of the movie is a valuable lesson: courage is not dictated by power. It is dictated by love. We are stronger than the demons life throws at us, but sometimes, we forget that we have that light that can shine brighter than the evils we fight. Love fuels courage, and if we all connect in love, we can shine as bright as a thousand fireflies, lighting the way for ourselves and others.


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